COVID-19 has created a shift where everybody is now searching for ways to earn money online. If you’re not there yet, then you may find yourself drying out. In this episode, Juliet Clark is joined by online course expert and leveraged strategist Donna Ashton to share with us some great insights and tips to go about the online world, particularly with creating an online course. She talks about how to create an effective course, what drives traffic, how to market, and more. Join Donna in this conversation as she reveals the things that can help you make money while helping others along.
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How To Create An Online Course With Donna Ashton
I’m excited to have a great guest. I think you are going to be interested in what she has to say. Before we go there, I want to remind you to go over to Super Brand Publishing over on YouTube and subscribe. You can see all of these people in real life over there on video. Also, don’t forget to take the Promote Profit Publish quiz at www.PromoteProfitPublishQuiz.com. Our guest is Donna Ashton. She is a speaker, an author, and an online course expert and leveraged strategist. She builds her freedom lifestyle business while homeschooling her daughters using the power of online courses.
She’s taught hundreds of others how to create and market profitable programs that allow time for family travel and impact in the world. Her mission is to teach you how you can easily take a process that you already do and add a course to your business to create a freedom lifestyle. Whether you’re running a full coaching practice, busy agency, speaking and traveling, or just slammed with family stuff, adding digital products creates leveraged income and sales without rework for you. Welcome, Donna.
Thank you, Juliet. I’m glad to be here.
The shift with COVID, everybody is looking for a more online way to make money. You and I had this discussion about a lot of the companies out there that didn’t have an online presence have been hurting. What are you seeing out there? Has that been a big boom for you?
It has. My business has grown throughout these crazy times, which I feel blessed and thankful for, but also that I’m able to help people who suddenly didn’t have a business anymore or had to pivot, make a 180 and turn around and go, “I’ve been thinking about doing this and this is the time.” Understanding that all we’ve had is online. If you’re not there or you weren’t there to the degree that you wanted to be there, and people couldn’t come see you anymore or meet with you, or it got super hard, you’re shut down, all of those things. It’s shined a light even more on the importance of having something else as an additional income stream for you so that you don’t have to rely on just you.
I know a lot of people are overwhelmed too because it’s getting time to go back to school and all of a sudden, parents are homeschooling as you did for years. When I put my first courses together many years ago, I thought that I will do this and they will come. There’s a lot to this. Let’s break it down. First of all, the courses have to be engaging. How do you do that when you create courses? Somebody gave me a course and it was thirteen-hour long modules. I was like, “I’m not doing this.”
There are two big components and the marketing is one. If you don’t have a good course that people want to buy and can take, consume and digest, then no amount of great marketing is going to sell it. You have to make sure that when you are creating your course, you are bringing something out there to market that people want and can pay for. You’re bringing it in a way that people can take it and get the results that they are wanting to get from doing that. I had someone tell me they had these 60 modules and this 250-page PDF. It’s more about understanding what people want. As entrepreneurs or business coaches or speakers, we know our stuff and we are here. We forget that our people are way over here most of the time. We forget where they are. We have to ask them like, “I have this great idea for a course.” I did this.
I surveyed my people back in my homeschool business when I was doing homeschool coaching. I would send out a yearly survey. I sent a survey to my people like, “What is the main challenge you’re having with homeschooling?” Ninety-five percent of the people that came back told me it was about scheduling and how they could fit everything into their day because they had young kids, they had families, working on the fly and trying to homeschool. They were busy maybe working part-time. I’m like, “I’m going to create this great course. I won’t have to do anything else. It’ll be a slam dunk.” I did and then two people bought it. I was angry. I even went back to them, and I’ve never had done this before. I’m like, “What happened? You guys all told me, you wanted this.” I have quite a good size list at the time and no one bought it. They came back and said, “We thought this is something we should be able to figure out on our own. We want to pay for that because we only have a small homeschooling budget. We wanted to use that for curriculum and art supplies.” It was interesting.
They wanted it yet they weren’t willing to pay for it. When I work with clients in my programs and things, we validate all of this because sometimes people do want what you have, but they don’t have the means for it. They don’t want exactly what you think it is. About 80% to 90% of the time when I work with clients and they do this testing, they tweak what they were going to bring out based on what the results are. That’s a huge number. It’s not just some, it’s most. I thought they wanted this but what they want is this. It’s interesting. If you don’t have your finger on that, you’ll have a lukewarm course at best. I want you to have a hot-selling course.You're doing yourself a disservice when there is nothing for people to look at from you online. Click To Tweet
That’s what we do with the books as well. We have that quiz go out first and then the validation points so you’re writing the right book. It’s the same thing. Donna is doing a quiz and one of the commitment statements is about investment. That is important because you go out and you ask people and it’s like, “Yes,” but are they willing to pay money for it as well?
Will they pull out their credit card and purchase? That’s the big thing. That’s the final test or proof of what you’re doing there.
I have a great course. It’s my first course and I sold it from Sage in Wyoming. I did a great job of it, got the course together, but then I went to market in other ways, through a webinar and things like that. It’s much harder than it looks. What do you have to do? What’s the traffic drive? Where do you go with all this?
It does depend. If your fear speaking from the stage, you have a room of interested people who you hopefully, got their attention. They are listening. They’re there for you. It’s hard when we put things on our websites or we say a blurb on social media. You’ve got three seconds to grab someone’s attention before they’re scrolling onto something else. It can be hard if you don’t already have a list of your ideal clients built up, or even if you’re doing launches over and over again. How do you have consistent income with a course? That’s a big question that not many people have cracked the code for because you can do a launch or speak and sell some, but then how do I consistently make $5,000, $10,000 a month or whatever it is that you are wanting from that course.
It’s that consistent revenue that everyone’s hoping for, the make your money in your sleep and all of that. I’ve done it many ways in years. I did it launch after launch and it’s exhausting. It doesn’t work that well anymore. I teach using a funnel and bringing your ideal traffic to you instead of you having to chase and throw up all over everyone, hoping to find someone who’s interested. Instead of doing that, setting up a funnel, driving traffic of your ideal clients to you, and hopefully your quiz too is a great way to do that because people are fond of preselecting and saying, “Yes, I want this. No, I don’t.” The people that come through your funnel are interested people. There’s a good possibility that they will buy either now or down the road as they’re on your list.
Anybody who hasn’t launched doesn’t understand how exhausting it is. We did it 2016, 2017. I quit doing the actual big launches back in the middle of 2018. Once I gave that up and I have a new way of doing it, I took off. It’s not exhausting in other ways. It was exhausting for the audiences as well, because they caught on to what we were doing, “I’m not going to click anymore.”
You can do it once in a while if you have a new product. I even tell people, “If you want to do a live launch once a year or something, do it.” You can do that, but over and over every month is impossible, unless you’re bringing a ton of new traffic. It’s impossible for you to keep up the pace of that. There are too many moving parts.
One of those moving parts is it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, inevitably it goes wrong. If you think, “I got that fixed.” The next month something else goes wrong. It is exhausting especially if you’re depending your income on the results of that. There are many outside factors that play into it.
That’s what many entrepreneurs see. It’s this rollercoaster of, “I had a nice launch, but then now I have to wait two months to do another one, so what do I do in between?” That’s what I had gotten myself into before I started working on the funnel. I launched more courses and launch more courses. I became this machine of cranking out, which was good for me looking back. At the time I’m like, “I’ll come up with something else. I’ll do another course. I’ll do this and that. I’ll have a telesummit.” After a while you’re like, “I can’t keep this up.”
I do the same thing. Don’t you think that that’s the reason that a lot of our messages get muddled? I look at people who years ago I ran into them on LinkedIn and I’ll be like, “That’s not what you did two years ago?” I can’t imagine that is good for your business.
I have seen the same thing where they give up and turn over to do something else because they couldn’t get it. They thought it was the market or something else. It could have been, but most likely it was the way. I’ve been selling online programs since late 2009. That’s a long time and things have changed over the years. What worked back then? What even work years ago does not work now. Now, we have another whole COVID thing that we’re dealing with when it comes to marketing. What will come out the other side of this, I don’t know either. Everyone’s making it up as we go here too. The course industry was already getting full. The issue is how to stand out. How to have a course that people will take and will do, and be seen for who you are instead of just mix in with the rest of the crowd. Everyone’s like, “I have a course.” Everyone’s got a course now. How to do that in a way that you still stand out and can still be seen as the expert that you are.
I had a discussion with a LinkedIn expert who wants to know more about the quiz. He told me he ran coaches in February 2020 and there were under three million of them and now there are four million more, which would explain why all of us would have been online marketers for awhile are busy. Unfortunately, the expectation with those new people is that this was easy and they will be up and running in a month. You mentioned 2009, I started in 2010. It doesn’t happen overnight.
No, it doesn’t. Ten years to be an overnight success. We learn along the way and you have to learn to be fluid and to go with the flow. It never ends. Just when you figure out something, that doesn’t work anymore. You’re always trying to stay in front of the next thing, which is the good and the bad of online. Suddenly there’s a new platform or there’s a new this. There are some tried and true things sticking with being authentic and being who you are, and there are some foundational things like we were saying. Knowing your audience and what they want, those things don’t change. They may come in a different package, a shiny package or something. Understanding what you do, your expertise, and how you can help people who are looking for you with that idea of whether it’s coaching or a course or a book is still there. It’s the foundation of that.
I’m going to add, knowing who to take on and who’s not. One of the things people do is they hide behind those courses do not have to come out from behind. At the end of the day, they’re hiring you. For instance, you’re an action taker. I’m an action taker. If you’re somebody who needs handholding, I may not be your girl, because I’m going to be the one going, “Why didn’t you do your homework?”
I’m a kick-butter too. I’ll give you a quick hug and then I’ll kick your butt to get it done.
You’re lucky if you’re going to get the hug from me. You have to also be visible enough besides your courses to communicate that with people if you are the person that they’re hiring at the end of the day.
People get to know you. I have a process where I have a webinar and then I sell people into a higher ticket program. People tell me, “You’re authentic.” I know they have checked me out on social media. They’ve checked my YouTube channel. They’ve watched other videos over there with me. They have something to go see because that’s the thing nowadays. This is what I’ve heard from other people too. Suddenly, everyone’s a course expert. I’m not saying that there aren’t them out there, but if you’ve had a course, then you are the course expert. There’s so much that goes behind that.
Checking people’s websites or stuff to see, do they have testimonials? Do they have success stories? Have they been around longer than six months? Are they’re there showing up consistently? You get to know them because there are options out there. As you said, seven million coaches. The waters are being filled up. You’ve got to do something to stand out. You have to be there and the people who like you are going to like you. You got to know that not everyone’s going to be your person unless they know you and can see you. How do they get to know you by a sales page or something for your course?Don't create a course that sits on your computer, collecting dust. You're not helping anyone, and you're not making any money. Click To Tweet
I do work with people to do webinars and try to make at least them getting something to see. I’ve taken people’s webinars and I’m like, “I can’t even stand listening to this for more than five seconds. I have to hang up.” I can’t hire that person because I don’t like why they’re saying something or I don’t like their voice, or they’re not my style. We have to find that and everyone has a different style. Being authentic and showing up, being visible or whatever works for you, you can’t try to be someone you’re not. If you are that person, even if you are more of an introvert or you are more reserved, then that’s who you are. Let people know that so they’re not expecting someone else when they get inside the course.
If you have a lot of content out there, people can go watch those videos. They can go listen to those podcasts. If you don’t and this is where I differentiate. I know someone who does a webinar frequently to bring people into her courses. The biggest complaint I hear is that she spends the first half-hour talking about herself, and people are bored by that. When I think about it, she had content out there like the rest of us because she doesn’t. She wouldn’t have to spend that time doing that. People would have already checked her out. They would’ve already done the things that they want to do.
You have to do a bit of that at the beginning of the webinar, but 30 minutes is too long. A webinar is there to give you the content and a little taste of you. Having some other things to back it up is nice. When I have a conversation with somebody like, “I checked you out, I checked your website out, I watched a couple of your YouTube videos. I watched your webinar.” I know I’m not killing it over on YouTube, but the people who need it come to find it and will watch the videos. At least a few see what I’m having to say and the way I’m saying it because everybody has their own take on whatever they’re teaching. They might be like, “I don’t like her.” I’m okay with that because the ones who do, they don’t mind me running around with my hands and being loud. They’re going to be like, “That’s annoying,” or that they shouldn’t work with me or come find my course because they are going to get a lot more of that.
I don’t send people to my website. People ask all the time and I’m like, “I’m a relationship person. You’re not going to know me by going over and having a relationship with my course.” My website is basic and it’s because I customize everything to people’s wants and needs.
In social media too, we’re all on Facebook and LinkedIn and everywhere. There’s no excuse, if somebody wants to check you out, they can pop over there. At least got something there for people to look at, then you’re doing yourself a disservice because there’s nothing. They then have to take a chance or they might say, “I don’t know if I’m going to like this or not.” They’ll look for someone else who’s out there being seen and they’re like, “She’s personable. She’s great. She must care because she’s showing up.”
That’s a great way to look at it. Who’s showing up and who’s not. Where can we find you? What’s going on next and how can we get ahold of you?
I’m on Facebook and I have a YouTube channel. As far as what’s going on next, I don’t have any big things in the works. Possibly a book. I have a quiz coming out. That is the big thing. I don’t have the link for that yet, but maybe down the line. I want people to see if they are ready to jump into making the commitment to do it. If you’re going to do it, then I want you to do it. Don’t half do it. Don’t just create a course that sits on your computer, collecting dust, and you’re not helping anyone. You’re not making any money. If you’re going to do it and you want to make extra money every month or consistent money or reach more people with your work.
I’ve had many people who were like, “I’m tired of doing it all one-to-one. I want something to work for me. I want to pull back a little bit. I’m working with a lot of people like that, or I want to make some extra income.” If you’re looking to make $5,000, $8,000, $10,000 a month from your courses, you’ve got to commit to do it. I want you to do it right so that you make the money and not like, “The course sucks. They don’t work.” Many people have a bad taste in their mouth from it because they tried it, and it didn’t sell, or they sold two and that was the end of it. You have to know the right way to do it, and also the right way to do it now is a big thing.
I tell people all the time, newer people are picking up books from years ago or they don’t realize that this changes so frequently. Where can we get ahold of you?
You can go to my website. I’m at Donna-Ashton.com. My YouTube channel is Profitable Courses. YouTube.com/ProfitableCourses. You can check me out over there. I have a Facebook group. You can come and join. I do lives, post tips and help work through your questions about course ideas, funnels and marketing. I’m out there and I’ll have my quiz. I’m excited about that. Thank you, Juliet.
That’s CreateYourCourseQuiz.com. Go take her quiz and find out if your layout is right. If you’re leveraging and what’s your other one?
Your beta launch if you have all the things in place so that you will be successful and make this thing come to life, and be a tool that you can use. I call it a business asset because you have something that you can sell again and again for years to come. It can be a powerful tool if you do it right.
Thank you for stopping by.
You’re welcome. Thank for having me. I appreciate it.
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